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What to Look for in a Fly Fishing School

by Ray Schmidt
04/12/07 ┬ęSchmidt Outfitters

Learning the basics of fly fishing is more than a simple weekend retreat. How do you choose the right school to give you the very foundation of the historical sport of catching a fish on the fly? In order to select a program that is going to give you the foundation of fly fishing and fly casting you need to know the basic categories of the sport.

You must learn and understand the difference between fly fishing gear (rods, reels, fly lines, leaders, etc) and other types of fishing gear. For example, a fly rod and a spinning reel don’t work together. Fly fishing is different than other types of fishing as the angler is casting a weightless lure (fly). In all other types of fishing the angler is casting a weighted lure. A huge difference! So first, look for a school that includes an educational segment on explaining the differences in fly fishing gear and how to use it.

Fly Casting
This is the heart and soul of the sport. Selecting a school with competent fly casting instructors is of paramount importance. Ask many questions on this subject, including are the instructors certified, how many years have they taught, will they release the references of former attendees, etc. If you go to a school and don’t come away with the basic understanding and skill of fly casting, you have made the wrong school choice. Check with some major fly gear manufacturers for their recommendations for a school in you region. Be careful that the manufacturer you talk to does not operate a school themselves. They could be biased and try to sell you on their school.

Water Time

Make sure the school has some water time, so you can put in some practical time fishing. Make sure the itinerary includes dry fly fishing, nymph fishing, and streamer fishing at a minimum. Make sure your water time includes the understanding of some basic bugs, like Mayflies, Caddis and Stone flies.

What’s Included?
Does the school include lodging or meals or both? How about free use of equipment? Is there a charge for supplies? How many total hours of actual instruction is included? Ask as many questions as you can to determine the best value.

Fly fishing schools provide a fast track of understanding the sport and art of fly fishing. Choosing the best school is a big part of making sure you are on the way to a lifetime of enjoyment. The web is a good place to start. Searching through four to six pages in Google is not a big deal. You will soon see which schools are fluff and which are the real deal. Make a list and make the calls and then ask the questions.